Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon kill 2 journalists for a pan-Arab TV channel, 4 Palestinian militants
BEIRUT (AP) — An Israeli strike in southern Lebanon on Tuesday killed two journalists who were reporting for a Beirut-based TV station on military activity along the border with Israel, according to Lebanese officials and the broadcaster. A separate strike killed four militants with the Palestinian group Hamas, officials said.
The Pan-Arab TV channel Al-Mayadeen, which is politically allied with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, identified the journalists killed in the town of Tair Harfa as correspondent Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Maamari. It said they were “martyred by treacherous Israeli targeting.”
The airstrike that hit the journalists also killed a Lebanese civilian, Hussein Akil, according to Al-Mayadeen and Lebanon’s state media.
The Israeli military said its soldiers took action against an alleged threat posed by a weapons launching area in southern Lebanon. It said the attack was under review.
“We are aware of a claim regarding journalists in the area who were killed as a result,” the military said. “This is an area with active hostilities, where exchanges of fire occur. Presence in the area is dangerous.”
The deaths bring the number of journalists who have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began last month to at least 50, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Most were Palestinian journalists working in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli shelling in southern Lebanon on Oct. 14 killed Reuters videojournalist Issam Abduallah and wounded other journalists from France’s international news agency, Agence France-Presse, and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV.
The first month of the Israel-Gaza war is now the deadliest month for journalists since the Committee to Protect Journalists began documenting journalist fatalities in 1992.
Elsewhere in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, an Israeli drone strike in the village of Chaatiyeh near the Mediterranean coast killed four members of Hamas, the Palestinian official and Lebanese security official said.
The Palestinian official identified the four as members of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. The Lebanese security official also confirmed that they were members of Hamas but did not say if they were from the group’s military wing.
Another Lebanese security official said the dead included Khalil Kharraz, the deputy chief of Qassam Brigades in Lebanon. Lebanese authorities briefly detained Kharraz in 2014 after he was blamed for firing rockets into Israel from Lebanon.
A Hamas official in Lebanon said there were “a number of martyrs from the Palestinian resistance,” without confirming the number or identities. All three officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal military information.
The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the reported drone strike.
The Lebanon-Israel border has seen daily exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli troops. The clashes began a day after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel and have raised concerns that Iran-backed Hezbollah will join the Hamas-Israel war.
Hezbollah’s media office vowed in a statement that the killing of the journalists “will not pass without retaliation.”
Hours later, Hezbollah said in a statement that it struck an Israeli intelligence unit inside a home in northern Israel with two missiles in retaliation for the killing of journalists and civilians on the Lebanese side of the border. It said the people inside the home located near Kibbutz Manara were killed or wounded.
Hamas has a significant presence in Lebanon, which is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians, many of whom live in the country’s 12 refugee camps. On Oct. 14, Hamas said three of its fighters were killed along the border and their bodies held by Israel.
The deaths of the Al-Mayadeen journalists Tuesday spurred a widespread outcry in Lebanon.
“It was direct targeting. It was not a coincidence,” Al-Mayadeen director Ghassan bin Jiddo said while holding back tears during a live broadcast. They join “the martyrs of Gaza,” he said.
Last week, the Israeli government blocked the Al-Mayadeen channel from broadcasting in Israel.
Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the strike, saying that “this aggression proves again that there are no limits to Israel’s crimes whose main goal is to silence the media that is revealing its crimes.”
“Treacherous Israel is targeting media crews in south Lebanon,” Lebanese Information Minister Ziad Makary said, describing the strike as “outrageous.”
Hamas also condemned the attack, calling it in a statement “a continuation of the savage war on our Palestinian people and our Arab and Muslim nation.”
In her last live report shortly before her death, Omar cited a Hezbollah statement issued Tuesday morning claiming a strike on a house in the northern Israeli city of Metula, where Israeli soldiers were stationed. Hezbollah said the attack was in retaliation for Israel targeting civilian homes in south Lebanon.
“We are still in the early hours of the day, and we are following any developments that might happen,” the correspondent said, speaking some of the last words.
Local media reported several other Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon on Tuesday.
State-run National News Agency said Israel’s military struck the outskirts of the villages of Teir Harfa and Majdal Zoun. It also reported that another strike on a home in the border village of Kfar Kila killed a woman and wounded her granddaughter.
Associated Press writer Melanie Lidman contributed to this report from Jerusalem.